Exercising with hayfever
Itchy eyes while out running? Hayfever symptoms feeling worse after you have been to the gym? Is sneezing affecting your game?
Hayfever and allergic rhinitis can wreak havoc on a workout schedule and according to our recent poll it has stopped a third of sufferers enjoying outdoor sports or activities.
From disrupting breathing and affecting your cardiovascular performance due to nasal congestion to hindering your concentration and sapping your energy, hayfever symptoms can destroy a good workout!
But don’t give up on exercise. Why? Well, according to a study conducted by Professor Jean Emberlin, director of Pollen UK, regular exercise can actually help improve your hayfever symptoms.
The study found that those who are most physically active tend to have milder symptoms than those who do little or no exercise, and recommended that hayfever sufferers should try to incorporate five x 30-minute sessions of exercise each week.
So what can you do if you want to be more active but those pesky hayfever symptoms are preventing you from exercising?
10 ways to exercise better with hayfever
Whether you’re hitting the gym or braving the outdoors, follow my handy top ten tips for exercising better with hayfever:
1. Avoid exercising when pollen is high
During the hayfever season, even though the weather is generally better and you’re more inspired to get out more and enjoy activities in the sun, it’s best to avoid exercising outdoors when pollen is high.
Unfortunately the most common and convenient times to workout (first thing in the morning and early evening) are also the same times when pollen is usually at its highest.
A good tip is to try to fit your workout in during lunchtime, exercising in late morning or afternoon when pollen levels tend to be lowest. I know changing your workout schedule to suit pollen sounds both annoying and inconvenient, but it can make all the difference.
2. Plan your exercise route
If you can’t reschedule your workout times to when pollen levels are at their lowest, then try to limit your exposure to areas where it is highest. If out running or walking, avoid wooded areas such as parks and gardens.
Knowing where and when pollen is likely to be high is vital. Our A.Vogel Pollen Count page will give you an overview of the pollen count in the UK, as well as your local area, allowing you to avoid pollen hotspots and help you plan your workouts better, especially if they are outdoors.
Some quick links:
Find more cities here
3. Exercise indoors
If pollen levels are really high it’s a good idea to stick to indoor exercise, for example at your local gym, swimming pool or indoor tennis courts.
However, believe it or not, the gym could be bad for you. If you’ve just signed up for a gym membership and seem to be suffering from one infection after another, then this could be due to the damp atmosphere making it easy for humidity-loving viruses to infect your respiratory system.
Harsh cleaning chemicals used in changing rooms and swimming pools can also trigger sensitive respiratory systems and cause nasal reactions. Try to limit your time in these areas if this is the case.
4. Exercise-induced asthma
If you’re prone to exercise-induced asthma (wheezing or coughing during exercise, or difficulty breathing when physically active) then you’re more likely to react to allergens in the air. Try holding a small amount of water in your mouth when you start exercising – this sometimes helps. You may find that avoiding dairy keeps your lungs clearer.
5. Remember pollen sticks!
Dry your sports gear indoors rather than on the washing line, as damp clothes collect pollen. When you get in, get undressed in the bathroom, not the bedroom, because there may be pollen on your clothes and you don’t want it floating around the bedroom making you sneeze during the night and disrupting your sleep.
It might sound a bit strange but having a shower before a workout can wash away any pollen that has collected on your body and hair, which can help you workout better as it stops pollen irritating you as you exercise.
6. Avoid alcohol the evening before a workout
This ensures you haven’t used up the nutrients that help to keep your nervous system stable and counter histamine production.
7. Eat to beat hayfever
Arm yourself for the hayfever season by eating the right foods. Opt for lots of fruit and veg, which are high in immune-boosting vitamin C and act as natural antihistamines, e.g. citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwi, bell peppers and dark leafy greens. A good idea is to include these in your pre-workout snack such as a refreshing smoothie.
Reducing the amount of dairy products in your diet is also a good idea during the hayfever season, as they can contribute to congestion of the mucous membranes in the respiratory tract.
8. Put your barrier up
Before your workout, especially if it’s outdoors, spread a little bit of barrier balm (such as coconut oil) around the edge of each nostril to trap or block pollen. Reapply each time you blow your nose.
9. Wear sunglasses
Wearing sunglasses, especially wraparounds, while you are exercising outdoor, including running or walking, can also help reduce the amount of pollen getting into your eyes.
10. Luffa can help
The herb Luffa is effective in combating the symptoms of hayfever including sneezing, itchy eyes and blocked nose, without the drowsy side effects associated with some hayfever medication – so it won’t negatively impact your workout.
Stock up on A.Vogel Pollinosan tablets (a natural hayfever remedy containing seven tropical herbs including Luffa), as well as Pollinosan Luffa Nasal Spray, which works by rinsing and cleansing the nose of pollen and other allergens.
Does hayfever ruin your workouts? How do you managed to exercise when pollen is high?